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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The 'DAY JOB'...

I have been promising to write more about the job that has taken me away from my felting in recent months, so here we are at last! But first a bit of background...

In a past life I studied Illustration at Harrow Art School and worked in publishing for over 30 years, free-lancing as a writer, illustrator & designer and ending up specialising in children's craft books. I have always considered this to be my job - it's on my passport - that is up until a few years ago when the recession, new technologies, cutbacks in schools and library services all contributed to a general downturn in the publishing world and work dried up, almost overnight...

But it did give more time for my felt making which quickly developed into an exciting new way of life as is well-documented here at Felting Matters...

And then life changed again, as often happens, and last year I was contacted by a children's publisher and asked to develop ideas for a craft series - I was back at the drawing board...


The first two books in the series were to feature 'Jungle' & 'Safari' animals, showing children how they could make models following simple step-by-step instructions. I was asked for samples and first made a lion from a margarine tub, card tubes and scrunched-up newspaper, with chunky pipe cleaner mane & whiskers. He was used for this cover mock-up, although he's been through some colour changes since then....



Each book features 15+ projects and these were designed using basic materials found around the house - recycled packaging, cartons, tubes, plastic bottles & containers, newspaper, kitchen towels, etc.

The projects also had to have a function where possible - so there's a Giraffe CD box, Lizard fridge magnets, puppets, pop-up cards, mobiles, spider badges and a Warthog money box made from a plastic drinks bottle (my personal favourite!)

 
You can see in these model making pictures I followed reference photos closely to match the animals colouring and markings - click on the photos to enlarge. An information poster is included with the books, with facts about all the animals, which I researched as part of the brief.

All the models have step-by-step instructions which were written as the projects were designed and all the steps are illustrated. There are also pages of template shapes to follow and eye sticker sheets, which is a really useful extra as they are the most difficult things to cut out.

It was quite an undertaking, which has taken many months to put together and wouldn't have been possible without KC's involvement. He made some of the models, putting my instructions to the test and ironing out many 'technical' problems. He also photographed the whole process so we had good reference for the artwork, which consisted of 6-8 steps per project and took six weeks to complete. He took shots of the models just before they were all packed up and sent off, just in case... Work in transit is always nerve-wracking! 

Here's just a selection of some of the projects...


And now it's all gone to production and books should be available later on in the year - hopefully in plenty of time for Christmas. I will post up the publication dates as soon as I hear... 

Will there be more titles in the series? 

I do hope so as it's been a great job to work on - so everything's crossed!




Saturday, 1 June 2013

SUMMER'S here...

...at long last! With some glorious weather and lots of holiday makers out and about on the Island enjoying the half term break. It's also catch-up time, not just here on the blog but also in the garden, which has also been sadly neglected as the day job took over. But I'm pleased to say that the publishing work has now finished - for a while - I'm planning a special blog feature about it all which will appear very soon...

Meantime, we have been busy in the garden tidying up and recovering our losses... At the end of last year we cut back all the lavender very hard. It needed doing but we couldn't have anticipated such a long harsh winter ahead. Living so close to the sea, with temperatures unusually low the 'Imperial Gem' surprised us by surviving the severe conditions but we lost all the 'Hidcote' varieties - which was very sad. So today we've been digging out all the dead wood and sewing wild flower seeds over the cleared area which should quickly give us some colour back.


I do have a plentiful stock of dried lavender from previous years, stored in bags & pillow cases around the house and in amongst all my wools & fibres. Not only does it smell so wonderful, but it's a natural insect repellent and should help to keep the moths away. I also use it in many of my products - to fill cushions, pincushions, bags, brooches and my lavender birds - as well as selling packs so you can make your own.

I have been working on some new designs for this summer...


 ...as well as the felt bird brooches there's new larger felt birds 
filled with lavender.

The busy summer season starts in a couple of weeks time and one of the great things about organising events here on the island is the amazing choice of venues. Our group of 'Crafty Artists' is exhibiting at Fort Victoria, Yarmouth on 27th - 28th June in the wonderful new exhibition space created there in the old fort, right on the sea front.

We have the OPEN STUDIOS launch at Quay Arts in Newport on July 1st followed by our show at Shalfleet Village Hall on the 19th - 21st July. Again this wonderful old building has just had a complete make-over and makes a perfect rural setting for Open Studios. There's more information about all the OS venues in the yearbook



Both refurbishment projects at Fort Victoria & Shalfleet were made possible by funding from the West Wight Landscape Partnership. Although no longer active the lottery funded WWLP's three year tenure has left a lasting legacy in the West Wight as they did such good work and helped sponsor so many local projects.  


I'll be back at Quarr Abbey Art Gallery from the 25th - 31st July. This is another very special place, wonderful buildings, gardens & tea room and our exhibition ties in with the second week of Open Studios, so it's going to be a very busy time. 

The workshops also continue throughout the summer at the Alpaca Farm in Wellow and at Oliven the Patchwork Café in Newport and there's more information and booking details if you follow the links...


 Hope to catch up with you soon...


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